The Palestinians on Saturday strongly condemned the US administration’s decision to cut the entire US aid budget to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and warned that the move would promote terrorism and extremism.
They said that they were now considering seeking the help of the UN General Assembly and Security Council to counter the decision, which Palestinian officials condemned as a US declaration of war on the issue of Palestinian refugees in particular and the Palestinian cause in general.
On Friday, the State Department said that the US has decided to end all funding for UNRWA and described the agency as “irredeemably flawed.” The US administration has “carefully reviewed” the issue and “will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauret said.
Palestinian Authority presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said that the US decision “does not serve peace; rather, it promotes terrorism in the region.” He added: “This is an assault on the rights of the Palestinian people, and part of a series of anti-Palestinian US decisions and policies.”
The US decision to cut the funds to UNRWA, Abu Rudaineh said, was “in violation of all international resolutions, and this requires the UN to take a firm stance and appropriate decisions to confront it.”
The Palestinian leadership is currently considering going to the UN General Assembly and Security Council to encounter the US administration’s decision, he added.
“Regardless of the magnitude of the conspiracies aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause, this will only increase our people’s and leaders’ determination to pursue the struggle to thwart all these plots,” the PA spokesman said.
He pointed out that UNRWA was established in accordance with a resolution issued by the UN General Assembly in 1949, and its role should continue until the issue of the refugees is resolved.
Because of its importance, PA President Abbas
will talk about the issue of the refugees during his speech at the General Assembly later this month, Abu Rudaineh said.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the US was not authorized to abolish the role of UNRWA. The US administration’s decision, he said, contravened international law and the UN resolution that led to the establishment of UNRWA.
The US, he added, was “not entitled to support or bless the theft of Palestinian lands and illegal Israeli colonialism. It has no right to act at the whim of [American business magnate, investor and philanthropist] Sheldon Adelson
and [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Erekat and several Palestinian officials appealed to the international community to reject the US administration’s decision concerning UNRWA and to provide financial aid to the agency. “The US decisions regarding Jerusalem, the settlements and the refugees destroy the international law and undermine security and stability in the region,” he said. “They are a gift to the forces of extremism and terrorism in the region.”
PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said that the US decision will not lead to the dismantlement of UNRWA and the “marginalization of the issue of the refugees as [US President Donald] Trump and his administration wish.”
Malki predicted that the US decision would backfire and draw strong reactions from several countries that oppose the “American policy of thuggery.” He said that the Palestinians, together with Jordan and EU countries, will launch a diplomatic campaign to urge many countries to fund UNRWA.
Ahmed Abu Houli, head of the PLO’s Department for Refugee Affairs, condemned the decision as “political blackmail.” The decision, he said, was aimed at exerting pressure on the Palestinians to accept Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
Abu Houli warned that the US decision would plunge the region into “uncontrollable violence and stability.”
Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction denounced the decision as a “declaration of war on the Palestinians.” Fatah spokesmen accused Trump of working towards “liquidating the Palestinian cause” and said that the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel was “firm and sacred.”
The Ramallah-based PA government urged the international community to take more effective steps to “stop the American policy of chaos and confusion.”
PA government spokesman Yusef al-Mahmoud accused the US administration of adopting anti-Palestinian policies aimed at serving Israel.
Hamas also strongly condemned the US decision regarding UNRWA and said it was aimed at “abolishing the right of return.” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the decision as a “dangerous American escalation against the Palestinian people.” The decision, he added, “reflected the Zionist background of the US administration, which has become an enemy of our people.”
Senior Hamas official Husam Badran accused the US administration of attempting to eliminate Palestinian rights, including the issue of the Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians, he said, remain committed to the “right of return to their occupied lands, and this is a legacy that no Palestinian can abandon.”
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) accused the US administration of being part of the “Israeli war against the Palestinian cause and rights.”
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